Potential Career Paths for History Majors

  • History is a diverse and exciting major that explores topics ranging from art and architecture to politics through the ages.
  • Potential careers for history majors are just as diverse and exciting.
  • Museums, libraries, schools, publications, and even federal and state governments hire people with a history degree.

History is an exciting major that explores a diverse range of topics from art and architecture to society, culture, and politics through the ages. As a history student, you’ll take a walk back into the past and get an interesting glimpse into how certain traditions, art forms, societal norms, and political principles originated and evolved over time. A large part of the program involves researching various sources, identifying and analyzing relevant information, and building solid arguments based on your observations and analysis. History students have strong research, analytical, critical thinking, and writing skills, which are critical qualifications in almost any profession.

Graduates with History majors find careers in a variety of fields including museums, heritage organizations, archive and records offices, libraries, higher education institutes, law firms, and publishing companies among others.  If you you’ve decided or are considering majoring in this subject, these are a few of many career paths that you can choose from.

6 Careers for History Majors

1. Museum Educator, Technician, or Curator

Museums employ individuals with a history background to handle various aspects of museum management, from purchasing specialized art and artifacts to researching information related to themed exhibitions and putting together relevant details for the purpose of fundraising. The position you may qualify for will depend on your degree earned as well as your experience.

A museum educator performs various tasks aimed at providing educational support at the museum. They may teach visitors about collections, design plans and activities for visitors, attend conferences, give lectures, or oversee volunteers among others. Museum educators generally have a minimum bachelor’s degree in history.

A museum technician or registrar is primarily responsible for ensuring that the artefacts within a museum’s collections are properly protected against damage from any source. They may also accompany groups of visitors and answer questions or give talks. You need a bachelor’s degree to qualify for this position.

Museum curators have more advanced degrees, a master’s in the history is the minimum requirement. To be employed as a museum curator, you would also need to have several years of experience working in museums in different capacities. As a curator you would be responsible for procuring historical artifacts, organizing and planning exhibitions, determining which content to display in various exhibits, and generally oversee all museum operations.

2. Legal Assistant or Paralegal

Working as a legal assistant or paralegal is another great option for anyone who has majored in history. Lawyers need a lot of help with researching relevant precedents to put together a compelling case. History majors are a good fit for this position because they would have spent a lot of time doing research during their 4-year program.

This may be a good fit for you if you are passionate about seeking justice and for helping people in general. Even better, if you chose subjects such as the history of constitutional law or government. These subjects give you a better understanding of how laws have evolved over time, making you a strong candidate for the role of a legal assistant.

3. Journalist

Journalists are responsible for conveying relevant, unbiased information to the public about current events as well as events going back several years. History majors are well-suited to this profession as journalists required several skills learned during their coursework.

A background in history gives you a better perspective on current and past happenings, allowing you to draw comparisons and put current events into context bast on the past. As a history major, you would also have honed your research, writing, analytical, communication, and critical thinking skills – all of which are invaluable in this role.

Depending on your area of specialization, you could write for newspapers, journals, magazines, or blogs. You could further focus on a specific area such as political analysis, government, foreign affairs or other such specializations.

4. History Educator

History graduates are employed by all types of educational institutions to teach the future generation of history students or to do historical research in a specific field. As a history teacher, you may be hired by secondary schools or universities around the world where you would work with a range of age groups.

History educators often specialize in a single subject such as art and architecture from a certain period, American history, or economics. Earning a master’s degree in your area of specialization will open many doors for you in educational institutions worldwide.

5. Collections Manager

Museums, libraries, archives, corporations, and the government employ collections managers. Their general role involves curating, preserving, storing and building collections of cultural property in various settings. Depending on their employer, a collections manager may be responsible for curating historical sites, preserving historical information and records or managing libraries containing valuable historical collections.

With a history major, you may also be employed by private companies, the government and non-profit organizations to preserve records and historical information.

6. Careers In Government

Historians are employed by the government at all levels, including federal, state, and local. Within the government, historians are generally responsible for collating, analyzing, and interpreting all sorts of historical data. They also educate the public through multiple channels such as providing context behind exhibits at museums or hosting specialized educational programs.

Historians employed by the government may work at public libraries, museums, or archives and generally require a master’s degree or a Ph.D.

Within state governments, historians typically work at public libraries or archives to preserve historical documents and artifacts.

These are just a few of the more common careers available for history majors. You can use your knowledge and skills in several other jobs too.

How To Start Your Career In History

While majoring in history can open doors in a variety of career paths, the exact careers you qualify for will depend on the degree you earn.

A 2-year program leading to an associate’s degree in history will qualify you for a job as an administrative or teaching assistant. In these roles, you would be responsible for providing support for business or education professionals. You can also transfer to a 4-year bachelor’s degree program and advance your qualifications and your career opportunities.

A 4-year program leading to a bachelor’s degree in history will widen your career prospects with opportunities in public history, education, and various museum-related roles.

With a master’s degree in history, you will qualify to work as a museum curator, archivist, or historian in an academic setting.

History students who earn a doctoral degree typically take up teaching positions at colleges and universities. In non-academic settings, this advanced degree will qualify you for a career in a government or public history setting.

Top 10 Colleges For A Bachelor’s Degree In History, General

  1. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
  2. Yale University, New Haven, CT
  3. Columbia University in the City of New York, New York, NY
  4. Brown University, Providence, RI
  5. William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA
  6. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  7. Williams College, Williamstown, MA
  8. College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA
  9. United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
  10. Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI

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